LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- About five years ago Rhoda Waller smelled something odd near her home.
"I mean it wasn't an odor that was normal for the neighborhood, nobody burnt the toast or the bacon, it wasn't that," she said.
It was a meth lab. In Jefferson County Louisville Metro Police narcotics detectives bust more than 100 of them each year. Lieutenant Richard Pearson is leading the fight to teach you how to recognize them near your home.
"It can hurt not only the people that are using meth but innocent people who aren't using meth from these meth fires as you can see," he said.
Investigators heavily suspected one such meth lab sparked a fire at a Hikes Point apartment complex last week. Flames hollowed out the building in minutes and families were left homeless. But there's no evidence pointing to meth. Police believe it was all incinerated in the fire.
Police say for every meth lab they bust there are 10 more they can't find. When they do find them the costs are enormous; about $10,000 dollars for each illegal science experiment they find.
"If we do go into a home or structure and they have been cooking meth or they are actively cooking meth, there are toxic chemicals and toxins that are going on inside that place," Lt. Pearson said.
Police say six to eight years ago the drug flooded not just the streets, but apartment and homes where it's often made near you. Most busts are in the southern section of Jefferson County.
"It makes you worry about your grandkids and stuff like that and the neighbor kids," Waller said.
And it's that concern that police believe will ultimately help them in the war against meth. The next door neighbor, you, just might be their best weapon.
"We do the best job that we can," Lt. Pearson said. "Most of our information comes from neighborhood residents that see something or smell something or just think something's wrong."
You can recognize meth labs around you by watching what trash people throw away. If there are lots of plastic bottles, along with odd items like old batteries, lighter fluid, or other chemicals. If you smell a strong odor that can also be a clue; some smell like acetone, or nail polish remover.
There are two more workshops coming up. On Thursday, Sept. 20, at Fairdale Library starting at 7 p.m. and at the Southwest Government Center in Valley Station on Tuesday, Sept. 25, also at 7 p.m.
The workshops are free, and anyone can request them from LMPD by calling them.